As voters turned out Tuesday to cast their ballots in a state Supreme Court race that has become one of the top national political stories as well as to vote in assorted local elections, poll workers in the state’s two largest cities said traffic was calm but steady.
Election day in the Milwaukee area saw a steady stream of voters at polling places into the afternoon hours. Voters showed up despite gray overcast skies, sporadic rain and brisk winds. There were no major back ups, long lines or long wait times as of mid-afternoon. The flow of voters in and out of polling sites appeared calm and orderly.
In Milwaukee, 14 polling sites are spread across the city, tucked in local libraries, schools and fire stations. Central Count, where the city’s ballots are delivered to be processed, has been moved to the city Election Commission’s warehouse in Milwaukee’s Bayview neighborhood. In the November 2022 election, Central Count was located in the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee.
The nearby city of Wawuatosa also saw steady turnout. Wauwatosa has nine polling sites, including the city hall, where a poll worker told Wisconsin Examiner about 250 people had come to vote by noon. Outside a steady stream of cars flowed in and out of the parking lot.
At West Allis City Hall, a central polling site for the community, a poll worker told Wisconsin Examiner that by 12:25, some 550 people had come to vote. A sign outside the City Hall advised that curbside voting was available for those who needed it.
At polling places across Madison, poll workers reported steady, but not busy turnout on Tuesday morning in the state’s second largest city — where a large turnout among its heavily Democratic voters would likely boost liberal Supreme Court candidate Janet Protasiewicz.
At the Wilmar Community Center on the near East Side, chief inspector Rudy Moore told the Wisconsin Examiner that the polling location had seen 300 voters by 11:30 a.m. which he called “a good clip” for a spring election where the precinct would normally see 600-700 voters over the whole day. The ward has about 1,800 registered voters.
The ward voted for President Joe Biden by 93% in the 2020 presidential election and for Democratic Gov. Tony Evers by 96% in last year’s gubernatorial race. Republican candidate for governor Tim Michels received just 38 votes from this ward in November.
Moore reported that there hadn’t been any lines, while there were a handful of times all of the poll booths were full. He also noted that people were taking longer to cast their ballots than normal, which he attributed to the complicated language in the three statewide referenda on the ballot.
On the city’s South Side, a handful of polling places reported steady turnout, although slower than the East Side site.
At a polling place on Park Street, chief inspector Elaine Staley said her site had seen nearly 200 voters right before the lunch rush began.
“It’s been a steady flow,” she said. “We’d like it a little busier but it’s been a reasonable flow.”
Staley said turnout at that location was lower than expected in the February primary elections but appeared on track to surpass that level on Tuesday. The location contains polls for two of the city’s wards, one of which was recently taken over from the dissolved Town of Madison. In total, about 1,000 registered voters in the two wards are assigned to cast their in-person ballots at that site.
There were 634 votes cast for governor there in November, with 89% of them going to Evers.
The polling place at Village on Park on Madison’s South side. (Henry Redman | Wisconsin Examiner)
While monitoring the site, Staley noticed a voter with a walker getting out of a taxi and rushed outside to offer curbside voting. The voter denied the assistance and once inside checked to see if her sister, who recently died, remained on the poll books. Poll workers found that the sister wasn’t registered anymore.
Staley also noted that the site hadn’t had any election observers yet, which she says is “unusual” because normally representatives from the political parties or campaigns typically stop by. She says she’d expected to have some observers because of the importance of the Supreme Court race and the contested Madison mayoral election.
A few blocks further south at the Madison Area Technical College campus, chief inspector Lauranne Bailey saids her polling place, with about 600 registered voters, had been “fairly steady.”
In the February election, 100 voters showed up at the polling place to cast a ballot by the end of the day, yet by shortly after noon the site had already seen nearly 80 ballots cast.
Bailey also said two people came through who said they weren’t representing any parties or campaigns but wanted to observe, yet didn’t have IDs to show the poll workers — which is required when observers check in. One of them came back later with an ID and “passed through,” she said.
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originally published at https%3A%2F%2Fwisconsinexaminer.com%2F2023%2F04%2F04%2Fearly-election-day-turnount-is-calm-but-steady-in-milwaukee-and-madison%2F by Isiah Holmes
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